Yesterday was a not atypical day with regard to pharmacy issues. Three of my patients received information from their pharmacy (Walgreens for all three) that was inaccurate requiring me to call the pharmacy, sit on hold for 10 to 20 minutes and speak with the pharmacist to correct the inaccurate information.
- One patient was told that she did not have any additional refills for her medication. I checked my prescription records and noted that she did have refills. I asked her to call the pharmacist which she did and was told the same thing. I called the pharmacist and after some discussion she told me that the problem was that the patient had filled her prescription within the past 30 days so her request for refill was too early and that was the reason it was denied (her insurance company would not pay for it). I pass this on to the patient who looked at the bottle and found that the date that I was told when she last felt her prescription did not match the date on the bottle.
- When patient went to get a prescription and was told that a prior authorization would be required. The pharmacy faxed me a notification but the facts referred to in in active prescription.
- One patient switched to a different pharmacy but her Walgreens keeps requesting additional refills despite the fact that she has called them to ask that they stop.
On the other hand, all but one of the patients who has switched to the Alto pharmacy which delivers medications for free throughout the Bay Area has been very satisfied with the service. Alto provides a secure messaging system that allows me to communicate quickly and efficiently with the pharmacist in case of any issues or problems and they go out of their way to help with prior authorizations and special requests. (The one patient who was not happy reported that he had to wait more than 10 minutes to receive a reply to an online message about his prescription, but I would note that I routinely wait longer than 10 minutes to reach her pharmacist when I call a pharmacy…)
I encourage all of my patients to consider switching to alto and note that if you decide not to switch and I have to spend time on the weekend calling your pharmacy to sort out problems that are due to their errors I have to charge for my time doing that.